Rapture of the Church
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Outline of the Study

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Part 1: What is the Rapture?
Part 2: Raptures in the Past
Page 2
Part 3: Jesus Promises to Rapture His People
Page 3
Part 4: Components of the Soon-Coming Rapture
  Page 4
Part 5: Who Will Be Raptured?
Part 6: When Will the Rapture Occur?
Page 5
Part 7: Signs Leading Up to the Great Tribulation
Part 8: How Then Should We Live?

Part 1: What is the Rapture?

"Rapture" refers to a future event when Lord Jesus will return to earth in the clouds. At that time Lord Jesus will...

  • Resurrect deceased Christians, glorify their bodies, and catch them up into the clouds to be with Him.
  • Glorify the bodies of living Christians, and catch them up into the clouds to be with Him.

We will examine the Biblical basis for this definition in subsequent paragraphs.

Where did the term "Rapture" come from?
We give you
seven facts in order to define the source of the word Rapture...
   
  • Fact #1 - The Bible's Old Testament was originally written in the Hebrew language. The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language.
 
  • Fact #2 - First Thessalonians 4.17 is a KEY verse pertaining to the Rapture. 1 Thes 4.17 tells us Jesus will catch us up into the clouds to be with Him. Notice that "caught up" is a translation of the Greek word harpazo.
  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up <harpazo> together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
1 Thes 4.17
  • Fact #3 - The meaning of harpazo is defined by Strong's Exhaustive Concordance as shown in the panel alongside.
  Strong's 726. arpazw harpazo
to seize:--catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).
  • Fact #4 - In the early days of the church, the Roman Empire ruled much of the civilized world. The Empire's principle language was Latin. Accordingly, in 382 AD the great scholar Jerome began translating the Bible into the Latin language. It took him 25 years. The result was the Vulgate Bible.
  • Fact #5 - In the Vulgate Bible, the Greek word HARPAZO in 1 Thes 4.17 was translated into the Latin word RAPIEMUR. It is from rapiemur that we get the word Rapture.
  • Fact #6 - Thus, "Rapture" has the literal meaning of being caught up or snatched away.
  • Fact #7 - When Jesus returns in the clouds (soon!) He will rapture His people -- living and dead -- right up into the clouds to be with Him always. Halleluyah!
  deinde nos qui vivimus qui relinquimur simul rapiemur cum illis
in nubibus obviam Domino in aera et sic semper cum Domino erimus

1 Thessalonians 4:17, Latin Vulgate Version

The Rapture is NOT "The Second Advent"

  • The Rapture will occur BEFORE the Great Tribulation. [Further details are given in Part 4 of this study.]
  (Christians are commanded to...) wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath (Great Tribulation) to come. 1 Thes 1.10
  • The Second Advent of Jesus will occur at the END of the Great Tribulation.
  (Jesus said...) In those days, after that tribulation... they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. Mark 13.24a, 13.26
  • At the Rapture, Jesus will NOT set foot on Planet Earth. Instead, He will catch-out His church to meet Him in the air above earth.
  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thes 4.17
  • At His Second Advent, Jesus WILL set foot on Planet Earth, so as to fight the Battle of Armageddon and establish His Millenial Kingdom.
  And in that day (Battle of Armageddon) His (Christ's) feet will stand on the Mount of Olives Zech 14.4a
NOTE: The First Advent of Jesus was when He became flesh (born of Mary), and dwelled among us.   And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us John 1.14a

Part 2: Raptures in the Past
The Bible tells us about FIVE Raptures that took place in the past.

#1 - The Rapture of Enoch

  • Enoch was a member of the seventh generation of the human race.
  • Enoch was the great-grandfather of Noah, in whose days the Great Flood took place.
  • It is interesting that Enoch gave us the very first definitive prophecy concerning the Second Advent of Lord Jesus.
  • When Enoch was 365 years old, God caught him up alive into heaven.
  And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Gen 5.24

By faith Enoch was taken away
(raptured) so that he did not see death, and was not found, because God had taken him; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Heb 11.5

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints
Jude 1.14

#2 - The Rapture of Elijah

  • Elijah was a prophet of God during the days when King Ahab (whose wicked wife was Jezebel) ruled Israel.
  • Elijah's ministry took place about 900 years before the incarnation (birth) of Lord Jesus.
  • The Bible prophesies that God will send Elijah back to Planet Earth, as a forerunner of the Messiah. This is why some folks, during Messiah Jesus's sojourn on earth, thought that John the Baptist was Elijah.
  • God raptured Elijah into heaven in a chariot of fire.

It is possible that Elijah will be one of the 2 witnesses mentioned in Rev 11.3.

  Then it happened, as they (Elijah and Elisha) continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 2 Kings 2.11

(God said...) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. Mal 4.5

And they
(the priests and Levites) asked him (John the Baptist), "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." John 1.21a

#3 - The Rapture of Apostle Paul (?)

  • When inspired by God to write Second Corinthians, the Apostle Paul recorded the rapture of an unnamed man into "the third heaven."*
  • Paul's account of this Rapture makes it highly probable that he himself was the person who was taken up to heaven.
  • Obviously, Paul's rapture was temporary -- he was returned to Planet Earth.
  • What was God's purpose in rapturing Paul? The Bible doesn't say. It merely tells us that whatever Paul heard up there was "inexpressible."

*The third heaven is God's heaven. The other two heavens mentioned in the Bible are: (1) the earth's atmospheric envelope, and (2) the celestial heaven.

  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago, whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know (God knows), such a one was caught up to the third heaven.

And I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body I do not know (God knows), how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
2 Cor 12.2-4

#4 - The Rapture of Lord Jesus

  • After Jesus was resurrected, He sojourned for forty days and nights upon Planet Earth.
  • Then Jesus was raptured into heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of God.
  • As you will see in the paragraphs to follow, He SHALL return.
  Now when He (Jesus) had spoken these things, while they (the disciples) watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Acts 1.9

He
(Jesus) who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Rev 22.20

#5 - The Rapture of Apostle John

  • The Apostle John preached and ministered for many years after Lord Jesus ascended to heaven.
  • In the year 95 AD, the Roman government exiled John to a penal colony on Patmos.
  • Patmos is a rocky and desolate island, about 28 miles in circumference, in the Aegean Sea.
  • During John's exile, God raptured him to heaven to receive the prophetic visions recorded in the book of Revelation.
  I (Apostle John) looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven.

And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "
Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. Rev 4.1-2

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